Parol Evidence Inadmissible to Determine Intent of Unambiguous Agreement

Posted by David Adelstein on April 27, 2016
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Extrinsic or parol evidence is inadmissible to determine the meaning or intent of an unambiguous agreement. See Restoration 1 CFL v. State Farm Ins. Co., 2016 WL 1600331 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016) (error to allow deposition testimony regarding party’s interpretation of assignment when assignment agreement was unambiguous).  

“The parol-evidence rule is a substantive rule of law and reduced to its essence, provides that a written document intended by the parties to be the final embodiment of their agreement may not be contradicted, modified or varied by parol evidence.” King v. Bray, 867 So.2d 1224, 1226 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016).   While there is an exception if the document or agreement is ambiguous and needs parol evidence to assist in the document’s interpretation, if the document is clear, it will be ERROR to allow parol evidence to demonstrate the intent of the parties. Id.

Remember, if you enter into an agreement, there is a strong chance the agreement will be clear and parol evidence will NOT be allowed to demonstrate the parties’ intent or meaning of the document. This reinforces the importance of ensuring the agreement you enter is clear and reflects your intent.  Further, if a crafty party tries to introduce parol evidence to establish such intent, it is important to OBJECT to the introduction of the parol evidence to preserve this issue for appeal. King, 867 So.2d at 1226.

Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1.

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